Regence coverage exceeds new breast cancer screening guidelines
New draft guidelines were released in May by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommending females with average risk should have breast cancer screenings every other year starting at age 40. The group had raised the screening age to 50 in 2016, but now says new scientific evidence is prompting the task force to lower the screening age back to 40.
The guidelines also recommend people with a personal history of breast cancer, those who’ve had an abnormality on a previous biopsy, those exposed to chest radiation at a young age or those with a genetic marker for breast cancer should begin screenings earlier than age 40.
Many experts say the task force’s recommendation of mammograms every two years isn’t often enough. Most medical groups recommend annual screenings starting at 40, including the American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology. They say annual screenings make it much more likely for cancers to be caught when they’re smaller and easier to treat.
Will the new screening guidelines change my insurance coverage?
Most Regence plans cover an in-network preventive mammogram every year with no out-of-pocket cost for women 40 and older, and for younger high-risk women. That won’t change with the new guidelines. Some plans also cover a baseline mammogram for qualifying women who are ages 35 to 39.
“We encourage all women to get a mammogram every year starting at age 40, and younger if you’re at high-risk of developing breast cancer,” said Regence Chief Medical Officer Dr. Donna Milavetz. “Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, and catching it early reduces your risk of dying from the disease by 25 to 30% or more. That’s why it’s vital to keep up with your annual clinical exams and screenings. Please make your health a priority by scheduling your annual mammogram right away.”
A recent research study found 3D mammograms did a much better job of identifying breast cancer in women with dense breast tissue than a 2D digital mammogram. You might want to get a 3D mammogram if you know you have dense breast tissue.
We’re here to help
Visit regence.com to find an in-network provider that offers mammograms. If you have questions or need help, you can use the chat feature when you sign in to regence.com or call our Customer Service team using the number on your member ID card. Learn more about our breast cancer coverage.